Field dressing your kill is the first step to preparing for a wild game meal. Use these quick rules to ensure your next dinner is as good as possible.
Two major rules to follow are:
- Get the intestines, lungs, liver, and heart out as soon after the kill as possible and;
- Get the carcass off the ground and, if possible, into the shade to cool as soon as dressing is completed.
Wipe the body cavity thoroughly with a clean cloth, or wash if water or snow is available. Dry with paper towels or clean rags. Prop the cavity open with sharpened sticks and hang the carcass until the cavity surface is thoroughly dry. Be sure there is good air circulation. Put the carcass on rocks or logs if it cannot be hung.
Transport the carcass to camp and skin it if the temperature is expected to be above freezing the first night after the kill. After skinning, wrap the carcass in light muslin, cheesecloth, or mosquito netting and hang in the shade to cool. This covering will keep flies, bugs, and dust from the meat. Avoid heavy tarpaulins or canvas bags that hold in the heat.
If the weather is cool, leave the hide on to protect the meat on the trip home. Fresh meat should be kept at 30-40F when transporting. High temperatures enroute often cause spoilage, especially in gunshot areas.
In warm weather (above 40F) hunters should skin and quarter the carcass (or have a locker plant do it).
Of course there is a lot more to getting a kill from the forest floor to the dinner table, but these tips will get you headed in the right direction.